How much time do you spend running away from stories?

Looking at my own track record (and I mean the kind one gets doing laps without completing anything), I should have more than just two miserable books behind me. But, I seem to spend too much time not writing or writing about not writing.

Here a quote from E.M. Forster (Chapter 22 – Howard’s End):

She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.

It was hard-going in the roads of Mr. Wilcox’s soul. From boyhood he had neglected them. “I am not a fellow who bothers about my own inside.” Outwardly he was cheerful, reliable, and brave; but within, all had reverted to chaos, ruled, so far as it was ruled at all, by an incomplete asceticism. Whether as boy, husband, or widower, he had always the sneaking belief that bodily passion is bad, a belief that is desirable only when held passionately. Religion had confirmed him. The words that were read aloud on Sunday to him and to other respectable men were the words that had once kindled the souls of St. Catharine and St. Francis into a white-hot hatred of the carnal. He could-not be as the saints and love the Infinite with a seraphic ardour, but he could be a little ashamed of loving a wife. “Amabat, amare timebat.” And it was here that Margaret hoped to help him.

It did not seem so difficult. She need trouble him with no gift of her own. She would only point out the salvation that was latent in his own soul, and in the soul of every man. Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.

How are we like Mr. Wilcox? We writers who cannot connect our prose and our passions. We live in this half light of creation, of art and life. We feel nothing and everything.

I realize this is a bit much, but it’s the kind of thing I suspect you hear yourself saying as you rage about not writing.

No one is keeping you from writing except yourself

Did you know that there are writers who neever figure this out? They blame others for the fact that they are not writing. They believe that someone is not providing them with the support they need. Such external disapprovals naturally result in an inability to write, don’t they? Not hardly.

The only thing keeping these writers from putting pen to paper is their own fear. That fear manifests itself in so many ways, most of which are just shy of the most base psychological means of avoidance.

No, the truth is that these writers are only running away from their work. I’ve done it myself, many times.

Getting back on track

The connection of passion and prose is at the heart of all writing, even that writing which may seem the most mechanical and uninspired. Lacking as such work may be, it still takes some effort and some investment of emotion to push the words along. You must reach beyond these painful moments and keep writing.

You must write from where it hurts the most. Eventually it will get better. You will make progress. Keep at it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *